What was your reaction to President Obama’s speech Tuesday at the United Nations?
It addressed important issues, and he stated willingness to cooperate on resolving problems in the Middle East and to help us find common approaches, which is the key for the international community. . . . No one country can solve problems which are becoming transborder, transnational, common threats and challenges.
President Obama spoke about enforcement of the Syrian chemical weapons agreement that you and Secretary Kerry came up with. . . . Do you see some enforcement mechanism being built in?
The chemical weapons problem in Syria is first of all an issue for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]. The president of Syria addressed the secretary general of the United Nations and the director general of the OPCW with a formal request to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
You’re speaking of President Bashar al-Assad?
Yes, President Assad. He asked formally to accede to the convention, and now he’s under legal obligation derived from this convention. And the steps of the Syrian government indicate clearly that they are fulfilling their obligations under this convention. . . . We also agreed in Geneva with John Kerry that we will initiate a Security Council resolution which will support and reinforce the decision of the Chemical Weapons Convention. . . . We will be very serious about any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, and those issues will be brought to the Security Council under Chapter 7 [of the U.N. Charter, which includes a provision for the use of force].
Secretary Kerry says an enforcement mechanism under Chapter 7 should be part of the U.N. resolution, and you apparently disagree.
The Geneva framework is available, and anyone can read what is in it. And we agreed today with John Kerry that we would follow that understanding in . . . the Security Council resolution.
So there is no difference between the Russian and American positions?
As these positions are reflected in the Geneva framework of the 14th of September? No.
In President Obama’s speech, he spoke of consequences if the Syrians fail to comply.
I cannot speak about the individual position of any U.N. member. I can only speak about the arrangements to which Russia is a party, and we are a party to the Geneva framework of the 14th of September, and we are committed to implement this fully.
So if there were violations, you would go back to the Security Council and get another resolution to do something about it?
How did this chemical weapons agreement come about? The White House said President Vladimir Putin and President Obama discussed chemical weapons several times, starting at the G-20 summit in Mexico last year. Then there’s the story that Secretary Kerry just threw out this remark that if President Assad were to agree give up chemical weapons, then the United States wouldn’t use force. Then, Russia quickly produced this chemical weapons proposal.